Watch Out for Haphazard Home Renovations

Blog posted On January 01, 2020

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Buying a home that was recently renovated can be a great find or a big mistake.  If everything is up to code and completed by a thoughtful homeowner, you could score a home with like-new features at an affordable price.  If the project was rushed by a property investor or developer, you may end up paying more to fix problems later.  When you’re touring new homes, especially recently renovated homes, here is what you should do.


Find out who is selling the home.

When the home you’re looking at was renovated by a homeowner who has occupied the home for a number of years, the renovation was likely thoughtful and planned out.  A quick upgrade to sell a home differs from a repair or remodeling project that will improve the homeowner’s quality of life while they’re living there. 

If the home is being sold by someone who is flipping the house, learn more about them.  Is this a reputable home flipper that has completed and sold other successful home renovations in the area or is this someone trying to turn a quick profit?  Working with a Realtor or real estate agent who knows the area is helpful too.  They may know the property investor or have someone in their network who is familiar with their renovation work and can give you an honest opinion.


Check permits.

Major structural changes on a home require permits.  If the home seller is advertising a recent repair or renovation that requires permits, you can ask to see them.  If the seller is not forthcoming, you can check public records to find out if permits were actually filed.

Working with an appraiser can save you some work too.  The appraiser will research any stated repairs and find out if proper permits were filed. 


Visit the home at least three times.

Any time you buy a home, you should try to visit the home more than once.  Most homes will be staged to sell but visiting at least three times can help you spot any inconsistencies and see if the seller is trying to cover anything up. 

In some cases, visiting more than once may not be possible if you are buying a home out of state.  If you have a friend or family member in the area, you can ask them to visit the home on your behalf.  Working with a trusted real estate agent will also help, because they can advocate on your behalf and let you know if anything looks like it needs repair. 


Look at comparable properties.

Consider looking at neighboring properties to compare the home you’d like to buy.  Are the upgrades to your potential home consistent with homes of similar size and age around it?  If your home was renovated by an investor, find out if they have any other properties for sale. 

Did they use the same materials in the renovation projects?  Sometimes developers can get a discount buying in bulk.  If the renovations look too similar, they may not be upgrading the custom needs of the home and just completing quick overhauls. 


Buying a recently renovated home can be the right move if the home was renovated with care, and the seller used the proper permits to complete any work.  If the home was hastily renovated by a house flipper to turn a quick profit, you may be able to tell by checking for permits, visiting the property multiple times, and comparing the renovation to neighboring homes.